The words of Mary in the August apparition at Valinhos that had the greatest impact upon the three children were: “Pray! Pray a great deal and make sacrifices for sinners, for many souls go to Hell because they have no one to pray and make sacrifices for them.” This motivated a strong desire to pray and joyfully offer sacrifices for the conversion of sinners and thus save souls from the fires of hell. The children made up sacrifices, such as giving up treats which they would give to a poor child.
If we ourselves would at least be willing to offer up illness, handicaps, grief, accident, loss, inconveniences, frustrations, irritations, problems, setbacks, defeat, misunderstandings, the aches and pains of old age, etc. that come our way, we would be making a big contribution in helping Mary in her great missionary work of saving souls. Mary can't do it alone; she needs and appeals for our help.
In whatever situation we are in, each one of us can participate with Mary and her son in the great work of saving souls. Don't let your sufferings (crosses) that come to all of us go to waste! Offer them up! For example, I resolved to not scratch myself during great itching from a bad case of poison ivy and offered it up. Alms-giving and good works are big. Fasting on bread and water on the First Friday of the month would be great spiritually as well as good for health and for the waistline. Participating with the priest at daily Mass, the most perfect prayer, from time to time and spending an hour or two in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament are wonderful sacrifices. Our Lord is greatly offended when we miss Mass on Sunday for no grave reason. He thirsts for our presence and for our love.
After four apparitions and many people coming on the 13th of the month, the children became very controversial in the entire region. Many believed and many did not, thinking it was all a hoax, a mirage, hallucinations, or even diabolical. Mocked, accused of deceit, and threatened, Lucia repeatedly asked Mary “to perform a miracle for all to believe”. Even the clergy was divided as the local Bishop sent a commission of priests to observe and investigate. Jose do Vale, the editor of a leftist newspaper, saw these apparitions as an opportunity to destroy the Church in Portugal. Thus he wrote article after article to “expose” it all with his distorted version.
At the same time people continued to look for the children at their homes and ask many frivolous questions to satisfy their curiosity. Many others bombarded them with petitions to convey to Mary for healing and other personal favors, even shouting from the trees. The children heard most of the miseries and afflictions of mankind. On the September 13th, the children had a hard time walking through so many people to the Cova de Iria to meet Mary.
Upon arrival at the holm oak, Lucia would start the Rosary with the people responding. None of the 30,000 people actually saw Mary, but most, including Msgr. John Quaresma, the Vicar General and another clerical investigator, with cries of joy did see a globe of light and cloud majestically coming from the east in a cloudless sky at high noon. Thousands felt a sudden cooling of the air and saw the sun dim to the point of being able to see the stars. Many saw a rain of iridescent petals that vanished before reaching the ground. So much of it all is well documented.
Generally it was Lucia who spoke to Mary, who was surrounded by dazzling light, absolutely beautiful, dressed in white with gold lines and holding a white rosary with her hands joined and fingers pointed upwards. Francisco saw Mary, but did not hear her. As at the other apparitions, Lucia humbly greeted Mary saying: “What do you want of me?” “Let the people continue to say the Rosary every day to obtain the end of the war.........In the last month, in October, I shall perform a miracle so that all may believe in my apparitions. If they had not taken you to the the village, the miracle would have been greater. St. Joseph will come with the Baby Jesus to give peace to the world. Our Lord also will come to bless the people. Our Lady of the Rosary and Our Lady of Sorrows will also come. God is pleased with your sacrifices, but does not wish that you wear the rope when you go to sleep. Wear it only during the day.” A little time afterwords the world will have peace.
Lucy then said the people are requesting that “I ask many things of you. This girl is a deaf mute.......Will you help these other people?” “In the course of the year she will be improved........Some I will cure; but the others, no. Our Lord does not have confidence in them.” Notice that Mary only does God's will. Apparently, for some people a cure would do more harm than good if they revert back to their sinful ways or fall into different sins. In other words an illness can be beneficial to the soul and can bring a person closer to God if taken in positive way.
Lucia then said: “Some people gave me these two letters for you and a bottle of cologne”. Mary must have had a loving smile in answering: “None of that is needed in Heaven”. So much that we value on earth is worthless in eternity. God answers every prayer, not necessarily the way we want, but in His great mercy and love for us, only looks for our greater good from the perspective of eternity.........the four last things in our lives: Death, Judgment, Heaven, and Hell. Ultimately, all that matters is salvation.
At Fatima and everywhere, for that matter, including the Marian altar in our church and her image on a wall of our homes, Mary, our model of woman and mother, continues to be the ultimate missionary over the centuries. It all began with her fiat (yes) to the Archangel Gabriel: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). Then at Calvary Christ himself gave His mother the great mission of being our mother, your mother to nurture our faith and bring each one of us to her son........."Behold, your mother" (John 19:27).
Our Lady of Fatima and Our Lady of Lourdes are shrines for the whole world. The charism of Fatima is the Rosary for peace, repentance, and penance. For Lourdes it's suffering and healing. In addition there must be well over a thousand regional shrines all over the world in which Mary adapts to each culture. Almost every country in the world has at least one Marian shrine. Ohio alone has over 20. The most prominent is the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation in Carey, Ohio near Findlay and Toledo. Each has it own special story to tell. An extensive but very incomplete list of Marian shrines may be found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shrines_to_the_Virgin_Mary. For the location of the shrines in Ohio go to http://catholicplaces.org/shrineOH.htm.
As Mary departed, Lucia shouted: “If you want to see Our Lady, look that way!” In the east many saw a luminous globe now ascending towards Heaven. Now we look forward to learning about the great miracle of October 13, 1917. In the meantime let's live and spread the Fatima message throughout our lives by prayer and example, word and deed.